MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan (5/24/2013) — A CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 made its final flight May 20 after flying from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Camp Kinser where it will await final disposition.
The CH-46E is one of twelve helicopters used by HMM-262 that will be phased-out during the next couple of months as the squadron transitions to the MV-22B Osprey later this summer, according to Maj. Jason E. Donovan, the executive officer of HMM-262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The helicopters have supported a variety of missions throughout the Asia-Pacific region and all over the world for more than 50 years, including assault support, and movement of troops and supplies.
“It is one of our longest-standing aircraft and has seen service in pretty much every major conflict and disaster relief operation that Marines have been involved with since the Vietnam War,” said Donovan.
While the helicopter is still effective at completing certain missions, the MV-22B Osprey possesses higher fuel efficiency and can travel farther and faster than the CH-46E, according to Capt. Christopher R. Corbeille, a pilot with the squadron.
“Our rapid-response assistance is much better with the Osprey,” said Corbeille. “With the Osprey, we can fly to almost anywhere in the Pacific theater in a matter of hours.”
Even with the enhanced capabilities of the Osprey, many of the pilots feel a connection to the CH-46E similar to that of their first car since it was the first fleet aircraft they piloted, according to Capt. Joseph P. McConnell, a pilot with the squadron.
“You always remember your first car,” said McConnell. “The CH-46E is still a highly capable and extremely reliable aircraft capable of completing certain missions. The Osprey has impressive new capabilities and will be a valuable asset to our squadron, but we’ll still miss the CH-46E.”
The CH-46E has aided HMM-262 in completing numerous missions across the globe and despite retiring the aircraft, the pilots of HMM-262 eagerly await the arrival of the new Ospreys.
“I have the absolute highest regard for the CH-46E,” said Donovan. “Parting with it is a bittersweet experience, but I am looking forward to the Ospreys as well.”